If you have recently become pregnant, you are probably already being flooded with advice about your body and how even minor decisions can affect your developing baby. But if you have not yet considered the role that oral health plays in pregnancy, now may be the time to do so. Although it is far from your uterus, your mouth is the gateway to your body, controlling what enters your bloodstream and which nutrients are passed on to your baby. Any irregularities can therefore lead to significant issues later on. These are three ways that your dental hygiene and maintenance habits can be key indicators of your child's health through pregnancy and beyond.
Encouraging a Lower Birth Size
Gum disease, or periodontitis, may seem like a harmless annoyance at first, but it can actually have a wide-reaching and negative influence on your general health. When your gums are cracked and withdrawn, it is easier for harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream, causing infections in any organs they can reach. In response to this, your body creates proteins known as cytokines and prostaglandins, which regulate your immune system but are also known to trigger premature births in sufficient concentrations. In fact, there appears to be a direct correlation between gum disease and babies being born prematurely or at a low weight, making it especially important to treat this issue both before and during your pregnancy.
Increasing Your Risk for Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a dangerous condition associated with pregnancy that can lead to permanent organ damage or even death if not caught in time. It is typically characterized by high blood pressure, headaches, vision problems and swelling. Although the specific relationship between oral health and preeclampsia is still not well understood, the correlation between gum disease and preeclampsia has been noted by researchers for some time, and there seems to be a link between the two. Another study confirmed these findings and found that the risk was especially high for women under the age of 20 or over the age of 35.
Shaping Your Baby's Teeth
Of course, your teeth aren't the only set you need to be worrying about during pregnancy. Your baby's teeth form throughout pregnancy, and even minor changes in the womb can permanently alter the appearance of those teeth in adulthood. Some antibiotics, for example, can permanently stain a baby's adult teeth if used while pregnant. You must consume enough calcium while you are pregnant to not only support your own body, but also to help a whole new one grow, including the beginnings of your child's teeth.
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